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John Spalding on 1971 Mt Sanford National Guard crash, recorded 2011

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John Spalding on 1971 Mt Sanford National Guard crash, recorded 2011


Published January 20, 2011


The session (one of two) was of John Spalding's remembrances of the incidents surrounding the 19 Feb 1971 crash of the Alaska Army National Guard U-8 on Mt Sanford. See alternative location of Facebook story here, AlaskaĆ¢s neglected heritage: National Guard, 19 February 1971 - https://ykalaska.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/alaskas-neglected-heritage-national-guard-19-february-1971/
This recording (in two parts) was made in Anchorage Alaska, 20 Jan 2011.

Forty years ago on February 19, 1971, an Alaska Army National Guard aircraft crashed at the 14,880 foot level of Mt. Sanford, 200 miles east of Anchorage in the Wrangell Mountains. The aircraft was an Army U8-D and was to be the first multi-engine aircraft for the Alaska Army Guard. It was on a ferry flight to Ft Richardson, Alaska from Fresno, California when it crashed. The crew was MAJ [Major] Steve W. Henault, US Army; LTC [Lieutenant Colonel] LTC William Caldwell (Bill), AKARNG; and MSG [Master Sergeant] Herbert Alex (Herb), AKARNG. All died in the crash. One rescuer also succumbed in the attempt.

Ray Genet, the Talkeetna mountain climber, Mt McKinley's first guide, and Rex Post, a Pan American World Airways captain on leave, also a mountaineer, were dropped off from an Army helicopter at the 15,500 foot level in an attempt to reach the wreckage.

Very little was published in coeval accounts. Many current National Guard members are unaware of these events in Alaska aviation history. The Alaska Army National Guard was the first in the nation to begin an aviation component. The plane was coming from the Army.

A real tragedy and great loss to the AKARNG, Caldwell and Alex were very dedicated soldiers. The Nome Armory was later dedicated to LTC Caldwell for his time and service as the Commander of the 1st Scout BN [Scout Battalion]. Alex was the grandson and son of Eklutna traditional leaders and his children also served in the AKARNG. In the mid-1980s, there was an effort to dedicate the AKARNG Aviation Hanger at Ft Richardson (Bryant Airfield) to MSG Alex, but nothing came of it yet.


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